John McAreavey who hobbled to the altar Eugene’s Cathedral on crutches after sustaining a football injury, told the congregation at the Little Way Novena of the pain of losing a loved one, a pain that was compounded by the injustice that followed.
Tragically John’s wife, Michaela, daughter of Tyrone GAA manager, Mickey Harte, was murdered in Mauritius while on honeymoon in 2011. No one has ever been convicted of her killing.
The Cathedral was packed to capacity on Tuesday night to hear Mr McAreavey speak as part of the Little Way Novena. Many people were forced to stand and Father Paul Farren even invited people to sit on cushions on the altar to make some room.
“There isn’t a chair left in the sacristy,” he said.
Several men in the church gave up their seats for the elderly.
During his 35 minute talk Mr McAreavey didn’t speak directly about losing his wife of 12 days but he did speak of his personal suffering and cruel loss.
“There were times when I did think the burden was too much to bear,” said John. “But when I felt like that my faith would sustain me through dark times. When I felt there was no hope left something always came to strengthen and sustain me.
He said he was reluctant to mention his own sufferings and didn’t want a “poor me” complex.”
“I saw my personal ordeals as a way to transform myself, and it allowed me to come to terms with things.
“ At the time of intense suffering I would feel the experience of warmth like God wrapping his arms around me.
“That’s a lovely image to have - God protecting you. You don’t have to bear anything alone, offer the burden to God and say - Can I have a hand with this?
“It really does help. Faith is life and has a spirit of its own. It is power and a great source of strength that you can call on in times of need. My own faith allows me to make sense of the world.”
Archdeacon Robert Miller, Rector of Christ Church will be tonight’s speaker at the Little Way Novena.Over the years St Eugene’s and Christ Church have worked together to proclaim the Christian message.